Companies fined £40,000 after worker suffers serious burns in Greenwich factory

Monday, 23rd Jun '08 at 08:39

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning companies to ensure maintenance work is carried out safely after a welder suffered serious burns in an incident at the factory formerly operated by Tate & Lyle UK Ltd, now Syral UK Ltd, at Tunnel Avenue, Greenwich, on 12 May 2005.

HSE inspector Paul Hems said: "The two companies involved in this incident failed to provide a safe system of work during the maintenance operations. This led to the hospitalisation of two workers, and the incident could easily have injured more. Multiple failings in the planning and control of the maintenance work by Tate & Lyle led to an avoidable incident taking place. Brewchem International Ltd, who provided the personnel carrying out much of the work, had inadequate arrangements in place to ensure operations directly managed by Tate & Lyle were carried out safely."

The incident occurred during cleaning and maintenance work on evaporator plant, which concentrates liquids by boiling off water. Brewchem International Ltd, a company that installs and maintains pipework systems, was contracted by Tate & Lyle UK Ltd to open up the evaporators at the site for high-pressure jet cleaning.

During the process of opening up one of the evaporators, there was an uncontrolled release of large quantities of hot liquid, which hit Terry Young, a welder sub-contracted to Brewchem, and four of his colleagues.

After being rushed to an emergency shower, Mr Young was airlifted to hospital where he was kept for seven days and treated for serious burns to his face, neck and arms. Another Brewchem worker was also taken to hospital for treatment for slight burns and shock. The other three workers were uninjured.

At City of London Magistrates’ Court on Friday 13 June, Syral UK Ltd, a food processing company, pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) and Section 3 (1) of the Heath and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined a total of £30,000, (£15,000 for each breach) and costs of £6,500. Brewchem International Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3 (1) of the Heath and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £10,000 with costs of £2,000.

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